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Two arrested at Trans Day of Remembrance

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Two arrested at Trans Day of Remembrance

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Tensions flare after police invited to ceremony
It was a tense day of protest and memorial during Trans Day of Remembrance (TDOR) in Ottawa on Nov 20.

Emotions were already running high after a rift developed in the trans community over the appropriate role of police in the day's activities. Earlier this month, Amanda Ryan and members of the Police Liaison Committee to the queer community announced a kick-off ceremony at Ottawa police headquarters on Elgin St.

In response, a second group planned a different starting location for the march at Minto Park a few blocks away, for those who felt uncomfortable with the police’s involvement.

A third group took organizers by surprise, staging a banner-unfurling nearby at the Queensway overpass on Elgin St. The banner read “Remember Stonewall,” a reference to a New York riot against police led by drag queens.

There, two were arrested for mischief. While they initially expected to spend the night in a detention centre, they were released later in the evening. The two youth, as a political statement, initially refused to identify themselves to the police.

The original march, organized by Ryan, started from the Ottawa police station on Elgin St. There, both the Gatineau and Ottawa police chiefs spoke.

Melanie Pasztor organized an alternative meeting place for people at Minto Park. Pasztor cited a number of reasons that trans people and their allies would feel uncomfortable with the police's participation in the event. In particular, she pointed out that some of those remembered during TDOR were victims of state violence.

Ryan's and Pasztor's groups met — around 200 people — as scheduled and marched together to Parliament Hill, where Bill Siksay spoke about his private member’s bill that would extend the Canadian Human Rights Code to include gender identity.

As the rally ended on Parliament Hill, word spread of the banner protest and arrest, and that two youth remained in custody. About 50 people made their way back to the Ottawa police station and occupied the lobby to show prison solidarity.

Dan Irving, a professor at Carleton University who was among the crowd in the lobby, spoke with the two youth in custody.

“My reason for jail solidarity, aside from the fact that two people were arrested today, is also again to call attention back to the Trans Day of Remembrance and the fact that so many trans people have been subjected to violence on an everyday basis because of extremely precarious positions that they have,” says Irving. “It was really important for me to articulate this to the police, to remind them that it is highly ironic that on the Trans Day of Remembrance they would make these arrests.”

Irving said that his concern, like others at the sit-in, was that the detained youth were safe. He added that they would like to see the charges dropped against them and that they would be released.

“There are some areas that there will never be cooperation with the police, but it is my concern and a concern of a lot of people here that the people detained were safe,” says Irving. “Regardless of the identities of the people who were arrested today — there have been so many trans activists who have been working so hard to make sure that the politics of racialization, poverty, violence and sex-trade work are front and centre with this event.”

The youth were scheduled to appear in court on Sunday, Nov 21 but were released later in the evening. It is not known if or when they will appear in court.

It has been a difficult year for the police's interaction with members of the gay and trans communities. In Ottawa, the police's relationship with the community was strained in May, when police published the name and photo of a gay man charged with not disclosing his HIV status before having unprotected sex. One version of the media release included the term "sexual predator."

TDOR is an annual event to commemorate trans people who have been victimized by violence, especially those who lost their lives. It was started to commemorate the life of Rita Hester, an African-American trans woman murdered in 1998.

Find photos and video of TDOR in Ottawa here.

This is a developing story.
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Comments

Bullshit.
This is the most ridiculous article I have ever read in my life. I am a lesbian and I am appalled for a number of reasons. But the only thing I will post in my frustration is that if someone has Aids and is going around sleeping with people unprotected, exposing them to the virus without their knowledge....they should be put on BILLBOARDS ACROSS NORTH AMERICA.
Remember Stonewall?
This whole banner thing ... Remember Stonewall" shows the ignorance of the community. While the relevance of Stonewall is American it is not the point of reference that started the uprising with the Canadian LGBT movement.
Ottawa's LGBT Community is constantly pointing the finger of blame. In fact, the Ottawa LGBT COmmunity must take responsibility for it's actions or reactions to situations.
Is this it? We've come all this way with rights in Canada that we had to marr the Trans Day of Rememberance with two people who held up a sign to make people a statement that that most people cannot identify with the Trans Community.
I'd be curious to see what role the two "sign people" play in the LGBT Community. I would in fact appeal to them .... if you are serious about making an impact in the LGBT Community then join everyone else at the table for discussion. Clearly these actions (along with the one sided Marcus McCann reporting) has further divided the community.
I'm starting to think Ottawa likes it this way.
Maybe someone will prove me wrong. I hope so.
Was the banner really necessary?
Anyone who hangs any sign from a highway (trans, environmentalist, crazy person making a point, politician, activist, etc.) has committed an offense and the police are obligated to arrest those who take such an action equally (there must be equality in enforcement). The arrest itself is not discriminatory because the police arrest anyone who takes that action equally. As such, I am not concerned about the fact that the people who broke the law in this way were arrested. What does alarm me are the comments around behaviour of the police and paramedics in how they treated people during these events. Everyone deserves respect, even while they are being arrested. They may be small acts to some (i.e. using the wrong pronoun) that the officials think are nothing. I hope that an outcry from people such as the liaison committee and media can call out that these signs of disrespect are still disrespect. They cannot be thought of as small because to some they are not small at all. They damage the relationship of all minorities that feel kin to our trans friends. The police / paramedic services would do well to identify the individuals who could not bring themselves to show respect and reeducate them on what it means to be in a position of public service and authority.
uhmm
the banner says: REMEMBER STONEWALL?

with a question mark. too good.
TDOR 2010
This incident gained all the attention of the media, and did nothing to help the Trans community. Remember Stonewall you say, 1969! 31 years ago! a lot has changed since, but there is still a lot to do in terms of educating the public in regards to acceptance of diversity. Even within the GLBTT... people can't get along with one another. Why do we need a label to identify us with our peers, Trans, Transgender, pick one! It doesn't matter to me, I'm a human being like every one else.

Instead of getting support from all to get the message accross to the politicians that Bill C-389, which will bring changes to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canadian Criminal Code to protect Transgender and Transsexuel people, the media didn't get their story right, instead they concentrated their attention on the negativity of the protest.

As a Transgender person, I am ashamed of what happened to the protesters (shame on you too), but still very thankfull of the Ottawa and Gatineau Police for acknowledging the TG/TS the community, of Mr. Bill Siksay's effort in regards to Bill C-389 and meeting with us on Parliament Hill, and of all those who attended the candlelight vigil to remember those who perished because of who they were and intolerance of society. Let's work together to "try" and make this world better for us all.
Police state 101
Is any of this irony lost on any of us?

Proud moments from the trans community in Ottawa. THANK YOU FOLKS!

Arrested and bullied for free speech?

Yes - this is EXACTLY one of many reasons why many in the community feel the tokenism, etc., of the police thing regarding TDOR is rediculous!

DROP MORE BANNERS PEEPS!
I AM WITH U IN SPIRIT - AT THE LEAST.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/transactioncanada
Allies? Seriously?
On Friday, I accompanied a transwoman to the hospital (as a worker). During the whole ambulance ride, the paramedics REFUSED to refer to her as 'her' or 'she' and then called the cops on us when she started getting agitated because of it (the cops who then also called her by her birth name and made fun of her with the paramedics). I am not even going to start describing what happened at the hospital, it was too upsetting. Let's just say that I spent my whole time there repeating: 'her', 'she', 'HER', 'SHE'.. Sensitivity training and allies my ASS! I wonder if the OPS and the Paramedics who participated in yesterday's event even get the irony of the arrests took place during the flag raising. REMEMBER STONEWALL!
Ridiculous
I actually saw the arrests happen. The whole thing was kind of ridiculous. The people who hung the banner weren't being "mischievous", really, and the police officers were a little rougher than they needed to be. Nobody looked like they were resisting arrest, and yet, the officers were shoving, and being just generally unpleasant. I was kind of upset about the whole thing and very much curious to see what they possibly could have been charged with.
"Mischief" is a ridiculous charge. I think it only exists so that power drunk police officers can arrest somebody for doing something that they don't particularly like, because they feel they should be able to rule over anything. Reminiscent of my time in highschool when I was told not to sit on a windowsill... Because that's not a chair, so it's not where we sit.
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